Before arriving in Santo Domingo, I had to attend a pre-departure orientation that revolved around my experience, personal and professional expectations, and various rules and advice for the experience. Once I arrived in Santo Domingo, my preceptor, Teresa, took Milca and I out for lunch before heading to the office for their weekly Monday meeting. The meeting consisted of a team-building activity in which strengths and weaknesses were shared, a basic teaching/instructional manual is used by the team to decide each Monday’s theme. After the meeting concluded, Teresa took Milca and me to the apartment where we’ll be staying while we are on this leg of the internship. We met Celeste, her son Joel, and got settled in without luggage and items. On Tuesday we began our orientation by being picked up by Jennifer in the morning who took us to the office. We only spent a few minutes in the office and then we went to the clinic where we were given a tour of the different departments, met all of the staff members, and learned more about the Five Star program that they use to teach mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding as well as vaccinations for themselves and the newborns. We were also given more information about one of the programs with which we will be involved, “Alerta Joven,” which provides a positive outlet for youth in the Herrera neighborhood of Santo Domingo to receive health and sex education, the opportunity to attend technical courses, receive appropriate government documentation, and a safe place off the streets. That was our acclimation to the clinic, and we finished the day with dinner back at Celeste’s.
At Monday’s meeting, we discussed the various Millennium UN Objectives. I wasn’t exposed to that in my courses, however I did learn about the 10 Essential Public Health Services and kept that in mind during the discussion. Also, during the orientation on Tuesday at the Herrera Clinic we discussed the Alerta Joven project with the coordinator, Johnathon. He was explaining that some of the students, when offered, don’t wish to be mentors because of fear instilled by the parents. When Johnathon discusses the mentorship and how beneficial the program could be for their children, many parents cite the church as the authority- ultimately taking the decision out of their hands, and any associated guilt or worry that accompanies it. Johnathon also explained the power and role that the church has over the Dominicans. The discussion was reminiscent of the many discussions of power that were had in my Principles and Practices for Health Educators course. I was cognizant of the role the church played and how that power can be utilized both positively, and negatively.